My main focus in class is on the Math Practice Standards. I try to model and expect students to live up to them in everything we do, but once a week we do a task to specifically focus on one of them. We teach content in that manner, so I think the MPSs deserve equal if not more careful consideration.
Today’s Algebra A class (first semester algebra, but it offered every semester) was looking at MPS #6 : Attend to Precision. I wanted them to think about how they communicate their understanding with clear definitions and labeling work.
Thanks to the MTBoS, I have been frequenting the website Which One Doesn’t Belong? I chose shape #4 by Chris Hunter for the activity. Each student got a printed copy of the picture and a letter A-D as they walked in the door. They were tasked with finding out why that letter didn’t belong and then writing a definition for the group containing the other three. Next, they each drew another shape that would be in the group and one that would not be in the group. This took about 10-15 minutes.
We got back together as a class. Each student would read his or her definition and the rest of the students had to say which shape didn’t belong according to that definition. Using the feedback from the other students and based on the clarity and success of choosing the right shape, the writer was asked to redraft the definition.
As a close out, they were each tasked with deigning their own WODB and then writing precise definitions for each of the four groups. We’ll trade student generated tasks next time and see if the original writer’s definitions are similar to the one from student who is doing the task.